July 8, 2019

Each day, 21votes gathers election and political news from a different region of the world. We explore Africa on Mondays. Click the map pins.

Liberia By-Elections – July 8, 2019 (postponed - new date not set)

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

When President George Weah, a former footballer, was elected in 2017, Liberia saw its first peaceful transition of power since 1944. The country holds elections to the Senate in 2020, but is due to hold a Senatorial by-election this year.

Rodney Sieh, Front Page Africa: “It’s Official: Liberia’s Elections Commission Postpones By-elections Due to Technical and Operational Reasons”

Zambia, Katuba By-Election - July 30, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Zambia’s next general election is due in 2021, but a by-election in Katuba, in the west of the country, because incumbent died.

Chris Phiri, Zambia Reports: “The opposition UPND has picked Katuba businessman Aubrey Kapalasa as its candidate for the July 30 by-election.”

Chad Legislative and Local - Due 2019

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Idriss Déby seized power in a rebellion in 1990, and although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote. Western governments, particularly France, view the Déby regime as a security partner in countering terrorism in the region, and provide military aid. Opposition activists face arrest and mistreatment. There areconcerns that the regime uses counterterrorism as an excuse for suppressing legitimate political opposition.

The mandate of the current National Assembly expired in 2015, and the elections have been delayed multiple times. In 2018, President Idriss Déby announced that the elections would happen in the “first half of 2019,” without giving a date, but in May 2019, the government delayed the elections indefinitely again, citing cost. The opposition holds that the real issue is a lack of political will.

Blaise Dariustone, DW (in French): “Chad divided over draft new electoral law: The draft new electoral law adopted Monday [July 1] by the National Assembly is supposed to frame legislative and local elections in the next few months. But there is debate in the opposition.”

Democratic Republic of the Congo Local Assemblies – September 22, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic

The DRC’s December 2018 presidential and legislative elections, which took place after multiple delays, were mired in controversy and dispute. The election commission declared opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll, but the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is a highly trusted institution in the country, said that their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu. When Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was polling too poorly for Kabila to credibly rig the election for him, Kabila cut a deal with Tshisekedi. The legislative elections – also highly disputed – produced a majority for Kabila’s coalition. Major opposition figures Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba were barred from the polls and spent the election cycle outside the country, but both have returned.

Human Rights Watch: “Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo fired live ammunition, killing one person, in dispersing opposition protests on June 30, 2019. They also used teargas, beatings, and arbitrary arrests against protesters in Kinshasa, the capital, and the eastern city of Goma.”

RFI (in French): “In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Martin Fayulu, who continues to claim victory in the December 2018 presidential election, proposed what he calls a ‘plan to end the crisis.’ The document, which has been circulating in diplomatic circles for about four months, was recently published on social media.”

Botswana Parliamentary – October 2019

Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Botswana, the world’s second-largest producer of diamonds, is a stable democracy with regular free, fair, credible elections. In 2018, President Ian Khama stepped down exactly 10 years after his inauguration, in keeping with the constitutional limit of two terms in office (his predecessor had done the same thing). Mokgweetsi Masisi, the former vice president, is filling the role of the presidency until after the elections, when the National Assembly will choose a new president. Khama’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) – founded by his father, Seretse Khama, protagonist of the 2017 film A United Kingdom – has dominated politics since independence in 1966, but soon after leaving office, Khama left the BDP to form a new party, the Botswana Patriotic Front. The split could open up debate on actual policy, or it could devolve into a personal power struggle.

The National Assembly will elect a new president following the parliamentary elections.

Poloko Tau, City Press: “Will Khama return to active politics in new party colours?”

ZimEye: “As preparations for the Botswana general election to be held in October gain momentum, groundwork has been laid for launch of the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) with rumours hitting the country that former President Ian Khama could be involved in the new party.”

BOPA, AllAfrica: “[Interim convenor Biggie] Butale said the BPF would evolve its vision on ‘compassionate conservative values’ and would bring about a change of government.”

Katlego K Kolanyane-Kesupile, OpenDemocracy: “The decriminalisation of same-sex activity in Botswana is a victory. But the struggle for equality continues.”a

Cameroon Municipal, Legislative, and Regional – October 2019

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Cameroon is in the midst of several crises. Anglophone separatists seek to form a new country called Ambazonia. The government has accused them of terrorism. The crisis is currently deadlocked, with neither side willing to make concessions, leaving half a million people displaced.

Cameroon also faces a political crisis. President Paul Biya, at age 85 the oldest ruler in Africa, won re-election in October 2018, after having already spent 36 years in power. The election was marred by accusations of ballot-stuffing and intimidation of the opposition. The opposition claims Maurice Kamto actually won the election, and opposition supports have staged a number of protests, which the government answered with a harsh crackdown and hundreds of arrests, including the arrest of Kamto himself. Opposition parties are currently debating what to do about the upcoming municipal, legislative, and regional elections, which are likely delayed following a July vote by he National Assembly to extend its term in office. Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) holds 142 out of 180 seats in the lower house. The Social Democratic Front is the main opposition in the legislature and hold 18 seats, while Kamto’s Cameroon Resistance Movement (MRC) holds one seat.

Adriane Foguem, Journal du Cameroun: “Members of the National Assembly have adopted the bill on the extension of their terms of office for a period of two months beginning from October 29 this year. The bill was adopted yesterday [July 2] in Yaounde during a plenary sitting chaired by the first Vice President of the House of Assembly Hilarion Etong.”

Moku Edwin Kindzeka, VOA: “Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region.”

Paula Dupraz-Dobias, Quartz: “The Swiss luxury getaway of Cameroon’s president Biya has become a hotbed of conflict”

Ethiopia Parliamentary – Due May 2020

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Federal Parliamentary Republic

Following three years of protests, Ethiopia’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) chose reformer Abiy Ahmed as prime minister. Abiy began a historic process of democratization, including releasing political prisoners and opening up Ethiopia’s previously closed political space. However, Ethiopia’s reformers face many obstacles. Nonetheless, many Ethiopians are hopeful. However, violence could threaten Abiy’s reforms.

In the 2015 elections, the EPRDF won 100 percent of the parliamentary seats.

Samuel Gebre and Michael Cohen, Bloomberg: “Why Ethiopian Leader’s Reform Agenda Is Under Attack”

Nizar Manek, Foreign Policy: “Abiy Ahmed’s Reforms Have Unleashed Forces He Can No Longer Control. Ethiopia’s prime minister oversaw the chaotic release of thousands of prisoners, including many ethnonationalist militants. His amnesty may now be coming back to haunt him.”

Morris Kiruga, The Africa Report: “Amidst instability, Ethiopia’s Abiy wants to strengthen the ruling alliance. As Ethiopia moves on from the attempted coup last month, the future of its ruling party has never been shakier.”

Tadias Magazine: “Daniel Bekele, a former Senior Advisor at Amnesty International and the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York, has been appointed as the new head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.”

Guinea-Bissau Presidential – November 24, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic

In March 2019, Guinea-Bissau finally held long-delayed legislative elections. The ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won 47 out of 102 seats, but made deals with three smaller parties to form a coalition with 54 seats. Prone to coups (most recently in 2012), no elected leader has served a full term since independence from Portugal. The country remains in a political crisis, with President José Mário Vaz (known as Jomav) in a feud with his own party (PAIGC). Vaz plans to run for re-election. Sometimes dubbed “the world’s first narco-state,” it risks once again becoming a hub for drug traffickers. 

AFP: “Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz has named a new government under mediation in a bid to end months of political turmoil. In a presidential decree published Wednesday, Vaz gave the lion’s share of posts in the 31-member government to members of his African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has the most seats in parliament. The reshuffle came under an initiative launched by the 16-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).”

APA News: “[ECOWAS] has extended the duration of its task force in Guinea-Bissau until March 2020, APA has learnt.This was part of the final resolution of the summit of heads of state of the regional grouping which was released in Bissau on Wednesday.”

Abraham A. Fofana, Henrick Persson, Anders Themnér, Nordic Africa Institute: “Yesterday Warlord, Today Presidential Candidate: Ex-military Leaders Running for Office in Post-civil War Societies”

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, AfricaNews: “The gender-parity cabinet has reached West Africa with the new government in Guinea-Bissau boasting as many men as there are women.”

Burundi Presidential and Legislative – May 20, 2020

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

In 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term, which critics said was unconstitutional. Nkurunziza’s decision sparked a political crisis. The opposition boycotted the election. Nkurunziza won, but the election was marred by violence and a coup attempt. In 2018, Nkurunziza said he would step down in 2020. Burundi’s 12-year civil war ended in 2005, but violence and authoritarianism have been on the rise. Many Burundians are nervous about the upcoming polls.

Lisa Schlein, VOA: “A U.N. commission on Burundi says the country is poised for another political crisis when it holds elections next year. The three-member commission of inquiry says the ruling party is trying to harass and intimidate opponents and creating the conditions for unfair elections.”

Ruth Maclean, The Guardian: ”Burundi’s ambassador to Geneva, Rénovat Tabu, dismissed the allegations as ‘lies from far away,’ according to a statement apparently released to local media. The commission said Burundi’s government was trying to convince the world that things had returned to normal, even as international crimes were still taking place.”

Liam Anderson, Global Voices: “In Burundi, a new political party called the Congrès National Pour la Liberté, or CNL, registered in February. Since then, opposition party harassment has spiked. Human Rights Watch recently documented “rampant abuses” against the CNL and called on the United Nations for targeted sanctions.”

Peter Muniata, The East African: “At every opportunity, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza rallies his country of 11.8 million people around the notion that, despite increased isolation by donors and the international community, the government continues running its affairs uninterrupted. July 2 was no different as the country marked Independence Day, from of Belgium in 1962.”

BBC: “Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially renamed the country’s national landmarks to reflect the historical contribution of the majority Hutu ethnic group….Critics, however, say the move was meant to erase the contribution of members of the minority Tustsi community.”

Sudan Ongoing Crisis

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

In April, nonviolent demonstrations ousted Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Last week, around the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, Sudanese troops massacred citizens protesting the regime.

Declan Walsh, New York Times: “Sudan’s military and civilian leaders announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement to share power until elections, promising an end to the standoff that has paralyzed the African country since the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April.”

Mauritania Presidential – June 22, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Mauritania’s incumbent president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, came to power in a military coup in 2009 and the country is rated “not free” by Freedom House, but some hope that political space could be opening up, albeit slowly. While most believed that the ruling Union for the Republic party’s candidate, Defense Minister Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, would win (and he was indeed declared the winner), opposition candidates, including anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, participated. This contrasts with the 2014 presidential election, which the opposition boycotted. There are concerns about the electoral process and the lack of international observers.

Committee to Protect Journalists: “Two journalists arrested, internet shut down amid disputed election in Mauritania”

AFP: “Opposition supporters arrested in Mauritania during clashes after the disputed presidential election have been released following official confirmation of the ruling party’s victory, security and justice sources told AFP. Ex-general Mohamed Ould Ghazouani won the June 22 poll with an absolute majority of 52%, the Constitutional Council, the final authority on Mauritania’s founding law, announced on Monday [July 1].”

Esha Sarai, VOA: “Freed from Slavery, But Not Its Shackles”

Malawi Tripartite (Presidential, Legislative, Local) – May 21, 2019

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Lameck Masina, VOA: “Protesters in Malawi have wrapped up two days of demonstrations aimed at forcing the head of the country’s electoral commission to resign. The protests followed other nationwide demonstrations on June 20 calling for the resignation of Jane Ansah as well as the rest of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). Ansah is accused of mismanaging the recent election in which President Peter Mutharika won a second term.”

The Gambia Presidential – December 1, 2016  and Legislative – April 6, 2017

Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

In December 2016, The Gambia began a remarkable transition to democracy. Citizens removed dictator Yahya Jammeh peacefully, via the ballot box, and began the process of establishing a free society.

France24: “Hundreds of Gambians took to the streets on Thursday [July 4] in solidarity with a woman who is accusing former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh of rape.”

African Arguments: “The Gambia’s women speak up”

Dionne Searcey, New York Times: “It is a significant development in Gambia, where rape carries a heavy stigma for victims and such accusations are rarely discussed, even among family members. Ms. Jallow is widely known in Gambia as Toufah; the hashtag #IamToufah was circulating along with some women’s claims.”

Upcoming Elections
Liberia By-Elections – July 8, 2019 (postponed – new date not set)
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

When President George Weah, a former footballer, was elected in 2017, Liberia saw its first peaceful transition of power since 1944. The country holds elections to the Senate in 2020, but is due to hold a Senatorial by-election this year.

Rodney Sieh, Front Page Africa: “It’s Official: Liberia’s Elections Commission Postpones By-elections Due to Technical and Operational Reasons”

Zambia, Katuba By-Election – July 30, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Zambia’s next general election is due in 2021, but a by-election in Katuba, in the west of the country, because the incumbent died. The governing center-left Patriotic Front (PF) has 89 out of 166 in the unicameral National Assembly, and the main opposition liberal United Party for National Development (UPND) has 58 seats. The 2016 presidential election was close – PF’s Edgar Lungu ultimately prevailed in a poll that was marred by tension and allegations of vote rigging but ultimately judged credible.  

Chris Phiri, Zambia Reports: “The opposition UPND has picked Katuba businessman Aubrey Kapalasa as its candidate for the July 30 by-election.”

Chad Legislative and Local – Due 2019
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Idriss Déby seized power in a rebellion in 1990, and although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote. Western governments, particularly France, view the Déby regime as a security partner in countering terrorism in the region, and provide military aid. Opposition activists face arrest and mistreatment. There areconcerns that the regime uses counterterrorism as an excuse for suppressing legitimate political opposition.

The mandate of the current National Assembly expired in 2015, and the elections have been delayed multiple times. In 2018, President Idriss Déby announced that the elections would happen in the “first half of 2019,” without giving a date, but in May 2019, the government delayed the elections indefinitely again, citing cost. The opposition holds that the real issue is a lack of political will.

Blaise Dariustone, DW (in French): “Chad divided over draft new electoral law: The draft new electoral law adopted Monday [July 1] by the National Assembly is supposed to frame legislative and local elections in the next few months. But there is debate in the opposition.”

Democratic Republic of the Congo Local Assemblies – September 22, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic

The DRC’s December 2018 presidential and legislative elections, which took place after multiple delays, were mired in controversy and dispute. The election commission declared opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll, but the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is a highly trusted institution in the country, said that their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu. When Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was polling too poorly for Kabila to credibly rig the election for him, Kabila cut a deal with Tshisekedi. The legislative elections – also highly disputed – produced a majority for Kabila’s coalition. Major opposition figures Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba were barred from the polls and spent the election cycle outside the country, but both have returned.

Human Rights Watch: “Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo fired live ammunition, killing one person, in dispersing opposition protests on June 30, 2019. They also used teargas, beatings, and arbitrary arrests against protesters in Kinshasa, the capital, and the eastern city of Goma.”

RFI (in French): “In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Martin Fayulu, who continues to claim victory in the December 2018 presidential election, proposed what he calls a ‘plan to end the crisis.’ The document, which has been circulating in diplomatic circles for about four months, was recently published on social media.”

Botswana Parliamentary – October 2019
Freedom House Rating: Free – Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Botswana, the world’s second-largest producer of diamonds, is a stable democracy with regular free, fair, credible elections. In 2018, President Ian Khama stepped down exactly 10 years after his inauguration, in keeping with the constitutional limit of two terms in office (his predecessor had done the same thing). Mokgweetsi Masisi, the former vice president, is filling the role of the presidency until after the elections, when the National Assembly will choose a new president. Khama’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) – founded by his father, Seretse Khama, protagonist of the 2017 film A United Kingdom – has dominated politics since independence in 1966, but soon after leaving office, Khama left the BDP to form a new party, the Botswana Patriotic Front. The split could open up debate on actual policy, or it could devolve into a personal power struggle.

The National Assembly will elect a new president following the parliamentary elections.

Poloko Tau, City Press: “Will Khama return to active politics in new party colours?”

ZimEye: “As preparations for the Botswana general election to be held in October gain momentum, groundwork has been laid for launch of the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) with rumours hitting the country that former President Ian Khama could be involved in the new party.”

BOPA, AllAfrica: “[Interim convenor Biggie] Butale said the BPF would evolve its vision on ‘compassionate conservative values’ and would bring about a change of government.”

Katlego K Kolanyane-Kesupile, OpenDemocracy: “The decriminalisation of same-sex activity in Botswana is a victory. But the struggle for equality continues.”

Cameroon Municipal, Legislative, and Regional – October 2019
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Cameroon is in the midst of several crises. Anglophone separatists seek to form a new country called Ambazonia. The government has accused them of terrorism. The crisis is currently deadlocked, with neither side willing to make concessions, leaving half a million people displaced.

Cameroon also faces a political crisis. President Paul Biya, at age 85 the oldest ruler in Africa, won re-election in October 2018, after having already spent 36 years in power. The election was marred by accusations of ballot-stuffing and intimidation of the opposition. The opposition claims Maurice Kamto actually won the election, and opposition supports have staged a number of protests, which the government answered with a harsh crackdown and hundreds of arrests, including the arrest of Kamto himself. Opposition parties are currently debating what to do about the upcoming municipal, legislative, and regional elections, which are likely delayed following a July vote by he National Assembly to extend its term in office. Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) holds 142 out of 180 seats in the lower house. The Social Democratic Front is the main opposition in the legislature and hold 18 seats, while Kamto’s Cameroon Resistance Movement (MRC) holds one seat.

Adriane Foguem, Journal du Cameroun: “Members of the National Assembly have adopted the bill on the extension of their terms of office for a period of two months beginning from October 29 this year. The bill was adopted yesterday [July 2] in Yaounde during a plenary sitting chaired by the first Vice President of the House of Assembly Hilarion Etong.”

Moku Edwin Kindzeka, VOA: “Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region.”

Paula Dupraz-Dobias, Quartz: “The Swiss luxury getaway of Cameroon’s president Biya has become a hotbed of conflict”

Guinea-Bissau Presidential – November 24, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Semi-Presidential Republic

In March 2019, Guinea-Bissau finally held long-delayed legislative elections. The ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won 47 out of 102 seats, but made deals with three smaller parties to form a coalition with 54 seats. Prone to coups (most recently in 2012), no elected leader has served a full term since independence from Portugal. The country remains in a political crisis, with President José Mário Vaz (known as Jomav) in a feud with his own party (PAIGC). Vaz plans to run for re-election. Sometimes dubbed “the world’s first narco-state,” it risks once again becoming a hub for drug traffickers. 

AFP: “Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz has named a new government under mediation in a bid to end months of political turmoil. In a presidential decree published Wednesday, Vaz gave the lion’s share of posts in the 31-member government to members of his African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has the most seats in parliament. The reshuffle came under an initiative launched by the 16-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).”

APA News: “[ECOWAS] has extended the duration of its task force in Guinea-Bissau until March 2020, APA has learnt.This was part of the final resolution of the summit of heads of state of the regional grouping which was released in Bissau on Wednesday.”

Abraham A. Fofana, Henrick Persson, Anders Themnér, Nordic Africa Institute: “Yesterday Warlord, Today Presidential Candidate: Ex-military Leaders Running for Office in Post-civil War Societies”

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, AfricaNews: “The gender-parity cabinet has reached West Africa with the new government in Guinea-Bissau boasting as many men as there are women.”

Ethiopia Parliamentary – Due May 2020
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Federal Parliamentary Republic

Following three years of protests, Ethiopia’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) chose reformer Abiy Ahmed as prime minister. Abiy began a historic process of democratization, including releasing political prisoners and opening up Ethiopia’s previously closed political space. However, Ethiopia’s reformers face many obstacles. Nonetheless, many Ethiopians are hopeful. However, violence could threaten Abiy’s reforms.

In the 2015 elections, the EPRDF won 100 percent of the parliamentary seats.

Samuel Gebre and Michael Cohen, Bloomberg: “Why Ethiopian Leader’s Reform Agenda Is Under Attack”

Nizar Manek, Foreign Policy: “Abiy Ahmed’s Reforms Have Unleashed Forces He Can No Longer Control. Ethiopia’s prime minister oversaw the chaotic release of thousands of prisoners, including many ethnonationalist militants. His amnesty may now be coming back to haunt him.”

Morris Kiruga, The Africa Report: “Amidst instability, Ethiopia’s Abiy wants to strengthen the ruling alliance. As Ethiopia moves on from the attempted coup last month, the future of its ruling party has never been shakier.”

Tadias Magazine: “Daniel Bekele, a former Senior Advisor at Amnesty International and the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York, has been appointed as the new head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.”

Burundi Presidential and Legislative – May 20, 2020
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

In 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term, which critics said was unconstitutional. Nkurunziza’s decision sparked a political crisis. The opposition boycotted the election. Nkurunziza won, but the election was marred by violence and a coup attempt. In 2018, Nkurunziza said he would step down in 2020. Burundi’s 12-year civil war ended in 2005, but violence and authoritarianism have been on the rise. Many Burundians are nervous about the upcoming polls.

Lisa Schlein, VOA: “A U.N. commission on Burundi says the country is poised for another political crisis when it holds elections next year. The three-member commission of inquiry says the ruling party is trying to harass and intimidate opponents and creating the conditions for unfair elections.”

Ruth Maclean, The Guardian: ”Burundi’s ambassador to Geneva, Rénovat Tabu, dismissed the allegations as ‘lies from far away,’ according to a statement apparently released to local media. The commission said Burundi’s government was trying to convince the world that things had returned to normal, even as international crimes were still taking place.”

Liam Anderson, Global Voices: “In Burundi, a new political party called the Congrès National Pour la Liberté, or CNL, registered in February. Since then, opposition party harassment has spiked. Human Rights Watch recently documented “rampant abuses” against the CNL and called on the United Nations for targeted sanctions.”

Peter Muniata, The East African: “At every opportunity, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza rallies his country of 11.8 million people around the notion that, despite increased isolation by donors and the international community, the government continues running its affairs uninterrupted. July 2 was no different as the country marked Independence Day, from of Belgium in 1962.”

BBC: “Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially renamed the country’s national landmarks to reflect the historical contribution of the majority Hutu ethnic group….Critics, however, say the move was meant to erase the contribution of members of the minority Tustsi community.”

Sudan Ongoing Crisis
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

In April, nonviolent demonstrations ousted Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Last month, around the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, Sudanese troops massacred citizens protesting the regime.

Declan Walsh, New York Times: “Sudan’s military and civilian leaders announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement to share power until elections, promising an end to the standoff that has paralyzed the African country since the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April.”

Past Elections
Mauritania Presidential – June 22, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Not Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Mauritania’s incumbent president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, came to power in a military coup in 2009 and the country is rated “not free” by Freedom House, but some hope that political space could be opening up, albeit slowly. While most believed that the ruling Union for the Republic party’s candidate, Defense Minister Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, would win (and he was indeed declared the winner), opposition candidates, including anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, participated. This contrasts with the 2014 presidential election, which the opposition boycotted. There are concerns about the electoral process and the lack of international observers.

Committee to Protect Journalists: “Two journalists arrested, internet shut down amid disputed election in Mauritania”

AFP: “Opposition supporters arrested in Mauritania during clashes after the disputed presidential election have been released following official confirmation of the ruling party’s victory, security and justice sources told AFP. Ex-general Mohamed Ould Ghazouani won the June 22 poll with an absolute majority of 52%, the Constitutional Council, the final authority on Mauritania’s founding law, announced on Monday [July 1].”

Esha Sarai, VOA: “Freed from Slavery, But Not Its Shackles”

Malawi Tripartite (Presidential, Legislative, Local) – May 21, 2019
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

Lameck Masina, VOA: “Protesters in Malawi have wrapped up two days of demonstrations aimed at forcing the head of the country’s electoral commission to resign. The protests followed other nationwide demonstrations on June 20 calling for the resignation of Jane Ansah as well as the rest of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). Ansah is accused of mismanaging the recent election in which President Peter Mutharika won a second term.”

The Gambia Presidential – December 1, 2016  and Legislative – April 6, 2017
Freedom House Rating: Partly Free – Government Type: Presidential Republic

In December 2016, The Gambia began a remarkable transition to democracy. Citizens removed dictator Yahya Jammeh peacefully, via the ballot box, and began the process of establishing a free society.

France24: “Hundreds of Gambians took to the streets on Thursday [July 4] in solidarity with a woman who is accusing former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh of rape.”

African Arguments: “The Gambia’s women speak up”

Dionne Searcey, New York Times: “It is a significant development in Gambia, where rape carries a heavy stigma for victims and such accusations are rarely discussed, even among family members. Ms. Jallow is widely known in Gambia as Toufah; the hashtag #IamToufah was circulating along with some women’s claims.”

The Year Ahead: Africa
Guinea legislative (overdue – mandates of current legislators expired January 13 – date not set for new elections); Chad legislative (originally due in 2015 but have been delayed several times – unclear when they will. actually happen); Liberia by-elections (July 8 -postponed); Zambia by-election in Katuba (July 30); Namibia Oshakati East by-election (August 24); Botswana parliamentary (October); Cameroon parliamentary (October); Mozambique presidential, legislative, provincial (October 15); Somalia, Somaliland congressional and local (November 1, 2019 – tentative); Guinea-Bissau presidential (November 3 – tentative); Namibia presidential and legislative (November 27); Mauritius legislative (December); Senegal local (December 1); Mali legislative (May 2020 – long overdue – additional delays possible)


A voter in Zambia, 2011. Photo credit: Wikimedia/DFID – UK Department for International Development

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